By Cynthia Sartor, Companion in Mercy
“God walks even among the pots and pans.”— St. Teresa of Avila
When I was growing up, my father worked the night shift. I can vividly remember my mother meticulously preparing my dad’s clothes and his lunch every evening after supper. Each evening without fail, she would take out four slices of white bread and make two sandwiches. Then, just as carefully, she would take out the big roll of waxed paper that was stored under the kitchen sink and wrap each sandwich separately.
I do not remember what else went into the lunch pail, but what I do remember is the way she prepared the sandwiches. Since he worked nights, he would leave for work around 10 P.M. with that lunch pail in hand. His factory uniform was always pressed, displaying creased pants and a crisp collar. Even the cloth hat he wore was ironed. Every time my mother ironed my father’s clothes and prepared his lunch, she did it with care, and she did that throughout their years of marriage until he retired.
In addition, every Saturday was devoted to cleaning the house. On hands and knees, she would dust the baseboards and the many legs of her grandmother’s dining room table. She would polish the end tables and the coffee table. Every Saturday with a mop, a bucket, dust cloths and furniture polish, my mother faithfully cleaned the house—two bedrooms, one bathroom, a kitchen, living room and full basement.
I do not remember her complaining; however, I know now that it was not always done with romance in her eyes, a song in her heart or a spring in her step. I now understand that she did those things because she loved my dad and me. My dad was the love of my mother’s life. So, when making sandwiches was not fun and house cleaning was a chore, she did it anyway because she was doing it for the family she loved.
In my opinion, making sandwiches and cleaning one’s house for 48 years is similar to “prayer.” Once in awhile, there is great emotion and passion and songs in one’s heart, but much of the time it is done when times are quiet. The overt passion is gone, the songs are silent and the joy in even the simplest of things is missing. These are the times of great love. The sandwiches were made, the house was cleaned, the prayers were said, not because bands of angels were singing, but because at the very root of all, there was love.
To pray, even when the words seem shallow and empty, is to know that beyond the words there is love, and that is really all that matters.